Tim Hortons & the CRFA Bring out the Blue T-Shirts Again as Comox Tries to Ban Future Drive-thrus

May 29 2009: The Human Impact Report is the first consolidated volume specifically and exclusively focused on the adverse impacts of climate change on human society across the world. “The role of this report is to document the greatest ongoing silent crisis of human history.” – Kofi Annan

Meanwhile … here in Canada and now in the U.S. as political leaders try to show desperately needed leadership – Tim Hortons, supported the Food and Restaurant Associations in Canada and the United States are investing massive sums of money to protect a multi-billion dollar fast food industry – 60% of which is done at the drive-through window.

New Comox Site:


Original London Site:


This strategy of “manufacturing scientific uncertainty” comes directly from the industry’s denialism playbook. The industry invests big money for public relations campaign to raise doubts about the increasingly definitive scientific evidence. They realize that if you could argue about the science, then you can stop municipalities from trying to address the problem. If the new ‘science’ which is bought and paid by industry doesn’t work, they fall back on the argument of ‘choice’ – whatever the risk to society, it the citizens right to do so. This is just another example of industry’s scientific consultants who specialize in product defense. Not unlike tobacco, oil and climate change. Corporate spin experts have recognized that manufacturing doubt works and if they do it well they can stop government legislation, or at least slow them down for years. This is a growing trend that disingenuously demands proof over precaution in the realm of public health.

Opposition to drive-thru ban builds

By Christiana Wiens, Comox Valley Echo September 29, 2009

The public hearing is a little more than a week away but opposition to a new bylaw to curb the number of drive-thru restaurants in Comox is percolating fast.

Tim Hortons staff wore bright blue "don’t ban drive-thrus" T-shirts this week and asked their customers to sign off on a note advising council to "Let’s allow drive thrus in Comox. Vote against the ban."

"At this stage of the game we’re in the final stretch," said Tim Hortons’ owner John Brocklehurst. He figures that the signed notes could sway councillors’ votes.

"It’s overwhelming – the last count I saw was 800 forms and that was only six hours into it," he said Friday.

Brochures telling customers to call their councillors and listing their phone numbers were also handed out to anyone who wanted them.

"The numbers are just lifted off the town’s website," he said.

The campaign was active at all three of the Valley’s Tim Hortons restaurants and the Comox McDonald’s.

However it’s supported by the Comox Drive-Thru Restaurant Coalition, made up of all the Valley’s drive-thru facilities, including the White Spot Triple O facilities at Chevron gas stations.

Town councillors who support the bylaw insist it’s not a ban on drive-thrus. Rather, it’s capping the number of locations that can have them.

Brocklehurst said he didn’t believe the language and T-shirts was misleading.

"Hopefully, they’re making it clear it only affects future drive thrus," he said.

At McDonald’s, manager Terry Denouden said there was some confusion around the ban.

"There are some mixed messages – some people think they’re going to take us take the drive thru down. They don’t know they’re going to allow us to keep the ones we have right now."

If the bylaw proceeds, it will limit drive-thru restaurants to the current McDonalds and Tim Hortons site, and the new strip mall across the street where A & W Restaurant and the TD Bank are both expected to have a drive-thru alongside the Shopper’s Drug Mart.

The vacant lot diagonally across from McDonalds won’t be able to have a drive-thru facility, as was previously planned.

However, there is also room for two drive-thru’s at the corner of McDonald and Guthrie where developer Harold Long hopes his application will be grandfathered as it was submitted before the drive-thru bylaw passed first reading.

The campaign runs from Friday until the night of the public hearing Oct. 7.


© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


Kumi calls for climate action… tcktcktck

While the president of Maldives begs the world to not let his people of the Maldives die – Canada ditches the talks for donuts.

This is irresponsible, disrespectful & disgusting behaviour on the International Stage on behalf of Canadians by a prime minster not fit to govern.

Please feel free to call this ass or the other ones & express your disgust.

PM Stephen Harper | Toll-free: 1.866.599.4999 | 1.613.992.4793
Michael Martin | Canada’s chief negotiator for climate change | 1.819.956.7608

Mayor Susan Gorin | Ban All New Drive-thru Facilities

Policy on drive-through businesses will wait until spring

Seth Duncan of Caffino Drive-Thru at Mendocino and Pacific Avenue takes an order, Thursday. Santa Rosa officials are considering regulating the number of drive-through businesses in the city to cut down on car emissions.


Published: Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:44 p.m.

They may be a convenience for those on the move, but drive-up windows for new fast-food restaurants, banks and even pharmacies could one day be banned in Santa Rosa.

The city’s Planning Commission Thursday agreed to send a memo to the City Council urging it to consider the fate of drive-through facilities as soon as possible.

Deputy Community Development Director Marie Meredith said she expects the council to tackle the issue next spring once more pressing planning matters — development of greenhouse gas policies, big box development guidelines and downtown zoning issues — are completed.

Mayor Susan Gorin said Thursday that drive-up windows have been on the city’s radar for at least two years as city leaders have sought a more pedestrian- and environmentally-friendly city.

“We have a community-wide goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent,” Gorin said. “We will never get there if we continue to say to retailers you can have a drive up window and the 15 to 20 people in line can have their cars idling while their windows are rolled up and their air conditioning is going.”

Gorin said she eventually wants the city to ban all new drive-up facilities.

“Do we want to emphasize people’s ability to sit in their cars to access services or should they be encouraged to park, get out, and do their shopping in the store,” she said.

Thursday’s Planning Commission discussion was triggered by the firestorm of protests over In-N-Out Burger’s hard-fought but successful effort to win approval last month to open a retail outlet on the northwest corner of Steele Lane and County Center Drive.

Most of the controversy focused on In-N-Out’s request to include a drive-up window, which raised howls of protest from neighbors and clean-air advocates over the amount of exhaust-spewing emissions the cars would generate, as well as noise and traffic congestion in the area.

The project won unanimous support only after Commissioner Nick Caston conditioned approval upon In-N-Out promises to send out personnel to take orders by hand when the line of idling cars got too long, and with a company commitment to erect a sign asking waiting motorists to turn off their idling engines.

The issue of drive-up windows has become a concern in Santa Rosa because they conflict with city efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, commissioners said Thursday.

“It’s my feeling we are in a position that we have to process projects that go against our broader policies,” Caston said Thursday.

Caston suggested recommending that the city “hold off on drive-through applications” until a policy on drive-up facilities is created.

But Commissioner Scott Bartley responded, “What you’re talking about is a moratorium and that is a pretty significant act,” a comment that drew support from other members of the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Michael Allen agreed a moratorium is too drastic but said he’d like to get the issue of what types of drive-through businesses, if any, may be acceptable before any more applications come before the commission.

“We need to get this resolved before more come through the pipeline,” he said.

Senior planner Joel Galbraith said only one drive-thru proposal is expected to come forward before an evaluation of drive-up businesses is undertaken in the spring.

Despite some environmental shortcomings, some commissioners said some drive-through facilities may be more acceptable than others.

“Pharmacies are a good use of drive-throughs because they allow ill people to stay in their cars,” said Commissioner Patti Cisco.

Commissioner David Poulson said the convenience of drive-up windows, particularly for senior citizens and families, cannot be ignored.

“It’s quite hard in certain periods of your life to get out of your car,” he said.

The drive-through issue has sparked similar debates in other Sonoma County cities, some of which have made it tougher for such facilities to locate in their city.

Cotati has only one drive-up window, a Walgreen’s Pharmacy.

Cotati Community Development Director Marsha Sue Lustig said the council banned drive-up windows in most of the city about eight years ago because of efforts to keep Cotati pedestrian-oriented and because of the noise and traffic problems they generate.

It wasn’t based on global warming, she said: “We didn’t even know that word at that time.”

Lustig said drive-ups are only allowed in two specific areas — along Gravenstein Highway and Redwood Drive that fronts Highway 101 — that cater to motorists leaving the freeway.


Drive-thrus lining up despite bylaw | The race to secure a drive-thru location in Comox is on.

Drive-thrus lining up despite bylaw

By Christiana Wiens, Comox Valley EchoSeptember 18, 2009

The race to secure a drive-thru location in Comox is on.

Comox council passed first and second reading of a bylaw to restrict future drive-thrus within its borders Wednesday, but it may already be too late to stop them from multiplying before council’s eyes.

The town received an application on July 28 to bring two more drive-thrus to the northeast corner of McDonald and Guthrie Roads. The application came in roughly two weeks after council passed its resolution to prohibit future drive-thrus.

The application – brought forward by developer Harold Long – makes room for at least four commercial buildings on the site, including two drive-thrus. It requires a rezoning from residential to mixed use commercial to proceed.

"My application was in prior to the [drive-thru] bylaw," said Long. "I would hope anything in progress is grandfathered in."

Long says he didn’t rush the application to beat the new bylaw. Rather, the site was delayed for six months while the town discussed traffic and how to properly blend commercial and residential space.

The rezoning has not yet come to council and the proposed businesses have not yet been secured.

In addition, a proposed Starbucks at the corner of Guthrie and Anderton Roads has moved out of the way for an A & W fast food chain.

Town administrator Richard Kanigan says Starbucks could build on the site at a later date, and has every right to have a drive-thru. That move, though speculative, would bring the total drive-thru outlets to seven.

Meanwhile, Tim Hortons continued its presence at Comox Council Wednesday, bringing in their corporate vice president Nick Javor and the author of an air quality study to plead its case before council made their decision.

"We understand that our drive-thru business is not welcome in Comox," Javor told council.

RWDI Consulting, hired by Tim Hortons to study air quality issues said there was no real difference in emissions at restaurants with a drive -thru and those without.

The data, said Javor, is the most detailed available in Canada on drive-thru emissions and should be considered credible, even though the coffee chain paid for it.

The data was collected at four drive-thru restaurants and one non-drive thru and extrapolated through sensitivity testing, said Wellburn.

Local Tim Hortons owner John Brocklehurst said in an interview that he had no intention of moving his donut shop to the McDonald Road site. He told council that he had also just signed a 10-year lease for the Anderton Road location.

He admits the site can be a traffic headache, and showed pictures of new traffic patterns and arrows he hopes will ease congestion, at least temporarily.

"We recognize that it’s too small but the only option is to open another location," said Brocklehurst.

The pleas fell short on a determined council who voted 4-2 to pass the bylaws and proceed to public hearing anyway.

"This is a conversation the community wants to have," said councillor Ray Crossley, adding that he’s looking forward to the public hearing.

Only councillors Tom Grant and Ken Grant voted against the motion.

Councillor Ken Grant said the issue could be a waste of time, considering it would come up at an official community plan review regardless.

"I can not even imagine how you can proceed with this," he said. "It makes no sense at all."

Councillor Tom Grant however said he was surprised at how many letters to the town on the issue came from the Council of Canadians in Ontario and questioned whether the town was being played by big labour who didn’t like the idea of low paying entry level jobs for children.

"We’re being used as stooges for big Ontario labour and I’m deeply concerned," he said.

That sparked Councillor Russ Arnott to question the big corporate presence of Tim Hortons.

"You talk about big labour, but the representatives of Tim Hortons are here. Are we not being stooges to big corporations?" he asked.

A public hearing on the bylaw will be held at Comox’s d’Esterre House at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7.

The two proposed drive-thru restaurants at MacDonald Road will also require a public hearing, if the application gets past first and second reading at council.



Under the terms of the town’s drive-thru bylaw, the drive-thru restaurants are permitted only on two properties – where they are now at Anderton and Guthrie Roads and the new Highland Shopping area being constructed across the street. Any future application can still come to council, through the rezoning process.

The new bylaw wording limits drive-thru outlets to a C3.1 zone and the two properties at Anderton and Guthrie Roads.

Any other developments, still have the right to ask for rezoning and be considered by council individually.


“Climate policy is characterized by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.”
David Spratt, Philip Sutton, Climate Code Red, Australia, Published July, 2008


As Canadians, each of us is responsible for approx. 19 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (virtually matching our U.S. counterparts at about 20 tonnes/year), while individuals in China are responsible for approx. 4-5 tonnes of emissions per year. This makes Canada one of the top polluters on the planet, which certainly doesn’t fit in with the concept that we are a highly developed, enlightened and progressive nation. Furthermore, due to melting of Arctic sea ice we are now witnessing methane being released from the permafrost into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas which is far more damaging to the stability of the climate than CO2. Up to 50 billion tons of methane, 10 times more than is currently found in earth’s atmosphere, could be released in a complete arctic thaw. Many climate models suggest that a majority of the Arctic’s permafrost could be thawed by the end of this century, perhaps much sooner as Arctic Ocean ice thickness has declined 53 percent since 1980. Most climate models failed to consider the additional warming effects of permafrost methane. What is now happening at an ever accelerating speed is one of the biggest changes in environmental conditions on Earth since the end of the ice age.

For our children, for future generations, for the many millions of species that we share this planet with, it is past time for elected leaders take strong, swift action on climate change. We are in a crisis of epic and historical proportions as our last chance to preserve life on Earth slips away.Tcktcktck …

Comox Valley Record

Drive-thru debate hot in Comox

By Colleen Dane – Comox Valley Record

Published: September 17, 2009 6:00 PM

While local Tim Hortons owners and corporate representatives had their say this week over a possible drive-thru ban in Comox, the public will have theirs at a public hearing next month.

Comox council moved first and second reading of a zoning amendment that would prohibit future drive-thrus from being approved within the town limits.

“I think that this is a conversation that the community wants to have,” said Coun. Ray Crossley, about sending the proposal to public hearing for feedback.

The decision came after some heavily worded debate amongst council and presentations from Tim Hortons representatives.

“The effort on the part of some to ban drive-thrus is part of an anti-car culture,” said Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for the company, who flew in from headquarters in Ontario to present this week.

“We believe there is a better solution than a blanket ban on drive-thrus,” he said.

Colin Welburn, an engineer with RWDI Consulting who studied emissions caused by drive-thrus for Tim Hortons, presented the findings of their investigation.

“If you ban a drive-thru, you’re going to increase emissions,” said Welburn about their conclusion, which was peer reviewed by a professor at Carleton University.

Their conclusion centres around the increased parking that’s required to accommodate people who would normally drive through for service.

Local Tim Hortons franchise owner John Brocklehurst updated council on some of the environmental initiatives they’ve undertaken — from further promotion of reusable cups, to a brand-new recycling bin that’s been installed.

He also talked about how they’ve tried to ease congestion in the Comox Tim Hortons parking lot, which is shared by McDonald’s.

“I know that our location has been a bit of a lightning rod for this issue — and I just want to say that nobody cares about this more than we do,” said Brocklehurst.

Existing drive-thrus will not be impacted by this proposed bylaw change.

The potential prohibition on any further drive-thrus was brought up after a development was approved for the new Shoppers Drug Mart property on Anderton and Guthrie. That project includes two potential drive-thrus — one for a coffee shop and another for a bank.

Some councillors felt that prohibiting any more would be a good step in lowering the town’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as encouraging a more bike-oriented, community-centered area.

Others, however, feel it’s an unnecessary change that’s being brought forward at a poor time — just before the town begins a review of its Official Community Plan.

“I think it’s totally irrelevant — and I just can’t even imaging after the report that we heard that you can even go ahead with this,” said Coun. Ken Grant.

Coun. Tom Grant made it more personal, pointing to the greenhouse gas emissions related to Crossley’s business of owning a shuttle company, and Coun. Marcia Turner’s work on BC Ferries.

He also challenged where the proposed ban was stemming from.

“I’m concerned that big labour from Ontario is infiltrating our town and using this council as stooges … I’m quite ashamed about it actually,” said Grant.

Coun. Russ Arnott pointed to the fact that it was actually corporations that were represented in the room — and that in the end it’s about balancing both stories.

“Ultimately, we’re hearing sides of the story and it’s up to us to listen to them all,” he said.

The next side they want to hear is that of the general public. With first and second reading approved by Arnott, Crossley, Coun. Patti Fletcher and Turner, despite opposition from K. Grant, T. Grant and Mayor Paul Ives, a public hearing date was set.

The hearing will be held Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at d’Esterre House.




CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change is an international art exhibition produced by Millennium ART presented in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP-15) taking place in December 2009. Video by Christophe Cornubert, PUSH.

We must prevent the US Chamber of Commerce from putting climate change ‘on trial’

We must prevent the US Chamber of Commerce from putting climate change ‘on trial’

The world’s largest not-for-profit business federation is trying every trick in the lobbyist’s handbook to scupper the legislative progress of the US cap and trade bill


Burger King called global warming ‘baloney’ earlier this year. Now other US businesses, under the umbrella of the US Chamber of Commerce, are calling for a trial on man-made climate change. Photograph: http://www.memphisflyer.com

It would be wise for anyone concerned about climate change to keep an eye on the movements and pronouncements of the US Chamber of Commerce over the next few months as Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade bill finally reaches the Senate.

The world’s largest not-for-profit business federation has made it patently clear in recent months that it does not like the look of the so-called Waxman-Markey bill. In fact, it thinks it stinks. So much so that it is currently trying every trick in the lobbyist’s handbook to scupper its legislative progress.

For example, it is currently supporting the Energy Citizens campaign, which bills itself as

a nationwide alliance of organisations and individuals formed to bring together people across America to remind Congress that energy is the backbone of our nation’s economy and our way of life.

On the surface, Energy Citizens has the look and feel of AN Other citizen movement holding folksy grassroots "rallies" across the US to get across its point of view. In the past week or so, it has held events in Indiana, Colorado, Florida, North Dakota, Missouri and Tennessee. On its website it promotes a "Share Your Stories" facility for citizens to post their own messages and videos. One recent example is "Shaka" from Tennessee urging the Senate to "do the smart thing and defeat this bill". The use of his first name helps to give the video that all-important "ordinary joe" impression.

But hang on: could our Shaka actually be this Shaka, the one who is listed as the executive vice president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research which is "dedicated to providing concerned citizens, the media and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market policy solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee", and provides a link on its website to the Carnival of Climate Change sceptics site? There sure does seem to be a striking resemblance between the two. Uncanny. Almost.

Is it really any wonder that Energy Citizens is now being cited as little more than a front for the sorts of big business/free-market lobbyists – a la the US Chamber of Commerce – who are instinctively drawn to the global-warming-is-baloney school of thinking? (for more on Energy Citizens and the rise of astroturfing, read Bobbie Johnson’s blog).

Professional lobby groups have been bending, cajoling and manipulating public discourse and opinion in ways similar to this for decades. If they can interrupt the debate, or better still muddy or even stall it, then their vested interests can be protected and allowed to prosper without hindrance. Such dark arts have been described in the past as "manufacturing doubt".

But in an interesting recent twist, the US Chamber of Commerce is now calling for the "truth" to be outed once and for all. It is demanding that the science that underpins our understanding of anthropogenic climate change be "put on trial". In papers filed with the federal court on 25 August, it argues that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should hold a public hearing "complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect".

The LA Times, which broke the story, reported a US Chamber of Commerce official as describing the hearing as "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century", in reference to the 1925 test case that saw the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher named John Scopes for violating a state law that forbade any public school teacher from denying the Bible’s account of man’s origin.

"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William L Kovacs, the US Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

The papers filed with the federal court make interesting reading. The US Chamber of Commerce is saying that it wants the EPA to hold its "Endangerment Finding Proceeding" into whether carbon dioxide emissions are harmful to public health in public and on the record.
It says that a proceeding on the record …

… is necessary to narrow the areas of scientific uncertainty, to permit a credible weighing of the scientific evidence, and to enable submitters of proof to demonstrate the falsity of some [the EPA’s] key erroneous claims.

… will narrow any uncertainty on the question whether, on balance, higher temperatures will not lead to net increases in human mortality.

… will enable the EPA to resolve any uncertainties about the impacts of higher temperatures on the conventional pollutants entitled to the greatest weight in considering the issue of endangerment.

… will permit the parties to provide any necessary confirmation that temperature increases would overall benefit human welfare and the environment, and allow the EPA to receive evidence rebutting unsubstantiated claims to the contrary.

… is the most efficient and only complete method for testing the competing claims in the record concerning extreme weather events and disease.

… is necessary because the EPA has generated legitimate concern that it has prejudged the outcome of the proposed endangerment finding, only an on-the-record process can produce a reliable and legally durable outcome.

It also argues that a "transparent, on-the-record process with no ex parte communications or political interference is required, would be manageable here, and indeed would be the best way to ensure that scientific integrity prevails".

Go to the bottom of the document and you can see that it means business: it has hired the services of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, one of the world’s largest corporate law firms. As it says on its own website:

In every year since 1995, Kirkland has ranked as one of the most frequently used firms by Fortune 100 companies in The National Law Journal survey, ‘Who Represents Corporate America’.

It then proceeds to list its corporate clients, which include Boeing, BP America, Dow Chemical, General Motors, McDonalds, Raytheon and Siemens.

Far more pertinent, though, is a quick look though the membership list of the US Chamber of Commerce itself. It claims 3m small businesses as members, but also boasts some big household names on its board, including Pfizer, ConocoPhillips, Caterpillar Inc, IBM, Accenture, Eastman Kodak, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, FedEx Express, Fox Entertainment, The Carlyle Group, Rolls-Royce North America, and US Airways.

Do all these companies really want to be associated with such a trial? Possibly not, as it happens. It appears that not all of the board members are happy with the US Chamber of Commerce’s public position on climate change. Back in May, a group of members including Nike and Johnson & Johnson publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the US Chamber of Commerce’s increasingly strident stance on the issue.

According to Politico.com, Johnson & Johnson asked the Chamber to refrain from making comments on climate change unless they "reflect the full range of views, especially those of Chamber members advocating for congressional action." Meanwhile, a Nike spokeswoman said her company has also been "vocal" with the Chamber’s leaders "about wanting them to take a more progressive stance on the issue of climate change."

It’s highly tempting to call the Chamber’s bluff on such a trial and say "bring it on". It sure would be fun – and deeply revealing – to see who it would call as its expert witnesses. But the reality is such a trial would provide the distraction and delay it so evidently craves. What the proposed trial does provide, though, is a sobering reminder about the combined might and resources of the forces that are now working so hard to scupper any meaningful action on reducing emissions.


Stephen Harper on Climate Change

You would really help us out by sending them our spoof of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attack ad on Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

We want to spread this far and wide before our Prime Minister visits the White House on Wednesday, September 16.

Will that be fumes with your burger?

Thursday, 27th August 2009


By KEVIN HARRISON – Kevin Harrison is a program officer with Clean Nova Scotia.

Thu. Aug 27 – 4:46 AM

The Chronicle Herald

Canadians rightly tend to be pretty patriotic about our culture and tradition. We are proud of all our achievements, from the invention of the telephone to the invention of hockey, both of which Nova Scotians are particularly proud to say hailed from Canada’s Ocean Playground.

We like to consider ourselves to be a selfless, giving culture that’s eager to help others.

It is true that Nova Scotians, and Canadians in general, have a lot to be proud of; but one aspect of our culture has become a bad habit that we can’t seem to shake. We are all guilty of participating in this habit from time to time; some of us even do it daily.

You know what I’m on about. A static-laced voice comes from a box and asks, “Can I take your order?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a large double-double and a bagel with cream cheese, please”

“Is that everything?”

You know it should be everything, but …

“Uh, actually, I’ll take a Boston cream doughnut, too.”

“Drive through, please.”

There’s a problem with that last direction: There’s very little driving going on at drive-thrus, just a lot of waiting. They tend to be like an American election — it takes forever to get to the end.

But surely customers inside are having the same back-ups, right? And on top of that, they all have to stand.

Actually, studies have shown that it’s quicker to park your vehicle and go inside to place your order. I’ve noticed this from personal experience. Try it yourself. Choose a car in the drive-thru and see how far it’s progressed when you are on your way out. Usually it only moves up a spot or two, and is still waiting.

Time is not the only thing we’re losing by using drive-thrus, however. Gasoline is wasted when we idle our vehicles. Just 10 seconds of idling uses more gas than turning off your engine and starting it up again. In fact, only 45 seconds of idling uses roughly the same amount of fuel as driving a kilometre.

Tim Hortons says the average idling time in their drive-thrus is a minute and 40 seconds, but a University of Alberta study has shown the average to be five minutes and eight seconds.

On top of that, if you’re waiting with the windows open, you’re breathing in the toxic cocktail of chemicals that come out of the exhaust pipe — that’s something you didn’t order.

This would only be a medium concern if just a few people were using this so-called convenient feature. But drive-thrus are reaching Beatles levels of popularity lately and, as a result, they have expanded beyond fast-food chains.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. has a drive-thru at one location in HRM and another in Sydney. It’s a pretty ridiculous sight to see the latter location’s parking lot completely empty as the drive-thru line is a mile long, while every vehicle is idling.

Some drive-thru lines across the country can get so long that they even make their way onto the street, which causes unnecessary congestion.

One of the most bizarre things I’ve seen was a drive-in church. It was essentially a parking lot with a large stage that allowed people to drive in, park, listen to the word of God, all while idling the car to keep an ideal temperature inside the cabin. I had to wonder what the advantages were over traditional churches. Last time I checked, they still had pews, so the convenience of sitting down wasn’t one. Drive-in churches are apparently becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

So, is it time to explore a ban on drive-thrus? Since they’re no faster, and often slower than going inside, cause environmental harm and waste our hard-earned cash, what purpose do they serve?

It should be recognized that some drive-thrus are open 24 hours a day. Employees who work the overnight shift undoubtedly feel more secure than if the restaurant was completely open. It’s a lot harder to rob a store from your car.

Also, those who are physically disabled likely find drive-thrus more convenient.

As well, parents with small children cannot leave them in the car while they go inside; and getting out the carriage, bags, toys and whatever else is needed is a hassle. I would argue that parents shouldn’t be feeding their kids fast food to begin with, but we’ll save the childhood obesity rant for another time.

So, what is the solution?

There are a few options. First, limit when drive-thrus are open. If they are open overnight, drive-thru employees retain a sense of safety, and the number of people getting a Big Mac at 4 a.m. would likely be minimal. At peak times, close them and it will reduce the large number of idling cars. Employees who normally work the drive-thru can concentrate on the line-ups inside during these hours.

Another option is making drive-thrus idle-free. There is minimal gas loss by starting and stopping your engine compared to idling, and starters in cars these days are built to withstand it. This would only work if the no-idle policy was enforced.

A third option is charging a premium to those who use drive-thrus, of course with exceptions for the disabled and parents with small children. A stunning number of single-occupancy vehicles operated by perfectly able-bodied people are idling in these line-ups. Consider the drive-thru a luxury, and people can pay the price if they so choose.

But probably the best way to deal with drive-thrus is to do things for ourselves. Making your coffee at home and bringing it in a reusable mug saves time, gas and the environment. There will be less exhaust put into our atmosphere and fewer disposable cups used. Instead of getting an unhealthy burger, why not make your own lunch at home, or support local delis and cafes?

If people choose to use drive-thrus less, the next time you treat yourself to a hamburger from a fast-food joint, you can have it with extra pickles instead of extra exhaust fumes.

Kevin Harrison is a program officer with Clean Nova Scotia.



“Climate policy is characterized by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.”
David Spratt, Philip Sutton, Climate Code Red, Australia, Published July, 2008

AUDIO (9:55) | Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group | Tim Hortons Greenwash


In case you missed it the first time.

We are sending this out as there are many new councillors across the country that have recently taken on this issue.

This strategy of “manufacturing scientific uncertainty” comes directly from the industry’s denialism playbook. The industry invests big money for public relations campaign to raise doubts about the increasingly definitive scientific evidence. They realize that if you could argue about the science, then you can stop municipalities from trying to address the problem. If the new ‘science’ which is bought and paid by industry doesn’t work, they fall back on the argument of ‘choice’ – whatever the risk to society, it the citizens right to do so. This is just another example of industry’s scientific consultants who specialize in product defense. Not unlike tobacco, oil and climate change. Corporate spin experts have recognized that manufacturing doubt works and if they do it well they can stop government legislation, or at least slow them down for years. This is a growing trend that disingenuously demands proof over precaution in the realm of public health.

AUDIO: Reporter Giacomo Panico discusses the details on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning


Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group

Last Updated: Monday, August 11, 2008 | 11:35 AM ET

CBC News

A federal government website that highlights the negative health and environmental effects of idling your engine has revamped its message after meeting with a group representing drive-thru restaurants.

‘It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling.’— Ottawa Coun. Clive Doucet

The “Idle-Free Zone,” a website managed by Natural Resources Canada’s office of energy efficiency, was removed for review following a meeting with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. A revised version was posted five months later, on July 22, that:

  • Advises drivers to shut off their engines after 60 seconds of idling; the previous version advocated turning engines off after 10 seconds.
  • Does not refer to 5,000 premature deaths annually in Canada linked to air pollution, as the previous version did, and no longer includes posters bearing images such as a girl choking and slogans such as “Idling is killing our environment.”

The website says its purpose is to help communities and environmental groups stop engine idling.

Carol Buckley, director general of the office of energy efficiency, confirmed that the restaurant association met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn on Feb. 7.

According to Lunn’s spokeswoman, Louise Girouard, no one from the office of energy efficiency attended the meeting. Girouard confirmed that an e-mail was sent from Lunn’s office on Feb. 8 asking the site to be taken down.

Buckley said the site was temporarily removed because the office didn’t want to leave any misleading information online while it was being revised.

“We wanted to make sure that the website reflected all of the latest data and information that was available about this topic,” she said, adding that in the end the changes were “not really significant.”

The change to the recommended amount of idling time was made because of access to new research taking into account the wear and tear on a car’s battery and starter caused by shutting off and restarting the engine, she said. Previously, the site said such wear and tear was minimal.

The new site now also refers readers to Health Canada instead of detailing the health impacts of idling because Natural Resources felt that wasn’t really their jurisdiction and they wanted to focus on the effects on climate change, Buckley added.

“I think the emphasis in the earlier text was a little strong. Today’s vehicles are more efficient when it comes to smog emissions,” she said.

Site ‘lacks balance’: restaurant group

Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president for government affairs for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the group corresponded with a number of government officials at various levels about the website, which was used by many municipalities to develop their own anti-idling bylaws.

‘What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling.’— Joyce Reynolds, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

“Our concern is that municipal decision-making must be based on facts and scientific evidence,” she said. “And we were seeing some municipalities that were focusing on the health impacts of idling based on information that was incorrect and misleading.”

The association argues Natural Resources Canada didn’t put enough weight on pollution caused by a puff of contaminants produced when an engine is restarted after being shut down.

Reynolds said some of that misleading information on the “Idle-Free Zone” site has now been corrected, but the site still “lacks balance.”

In particular, she said, it doesn’t deal with other driving behaviours that cause greenhouse gas and pollution emissions, such as excessive speeding, rapid acceleration and poor vehicle maintenance.

“What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling,” Reynolds said.

With regards to idling, the changes to the site will have an impact on municipalities, Ottawa city Coun. Clive Doucet said.

“It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling. It’s not good news for cities anywhere,” said Doucet, who pushed hard for an anti-idling bylaw in Ottawa.

A bylaw banning idling for more than three minutes in Ottawa went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

With the aim of reducing pollution from idling cars, a number of cities in Canada — including London, Ont., North Vancouver and Sarnia, Ont. — are thinking about making it tougher for restaurants to build new drive-thrus.

Gordon Taylor, an engineering consultant who has done air-quality studies for Natural Resources Canada, suggested that the restaurant association could be taking another approach to deal with criticism of drive-thrus.

“I think the restaurant association should have some kind of a pro-active campaign to say, ‘Hey, if there’s a big long lineup, consider walking in the door.’ ”